Dag led me back to the surface. I had not realized how deep we’d gone until I was limping back in the black. My mind was burning.

Welcome to the jungle.

We used a flashlight to spot a door on the tunnel’s side. The steel stairs beyond led up to an observatory. Gloom filtered through the dusty glass on the far wall of the room, looking down on a derelict factory floor.

By the window in a foldout metal chair sat a man.

A spider.

What had to be a guy nearly seven feet tall was folded over in his seat, staring at us under his brow. I got a good look at his lean face and the firemark which marred it as he sat up and expanded.

“You messed up,” he said.

Dag was surprised to see him. “…We shouldn’t all be here like this.”

“No, we shouldn’t. Too late now, isn’t it though?”

“Take a seat, Frode.”

I obliged. I was happy to. Dead tired, only the surreal horror of this day was keeping me on my feet.

The cat in my shirt meowed as I sat. I tiredly wiggled my eyebrows in response to the strange look the emaciated man gave me. He was unimpressed. They were all so serious and I was still just dying.

Tired yet bursting. One thought on my mind. I have what I wanted.

I had to suppress a laughing fit.

“I don’t think so, McCrea,” Dag told him.

“You just take him down to have a chat with the demon bound in the basement and you don’t think you fucked up?” McCrea swept a strand of long white hair out of his face which had fallen loose.

Percy had come up from the steps. “I told you, Kid.”

Hashing blame,” I laughed. These two guys had to both be in their sixties. It was such a funny sight, them admonishing us.

Dag tried to shush me. “It worked, he’s got valuable info. It cost nothing.

“It all has a cost!” Percy shouted, angered.

McCrea grit his teeth. “There’s protocol. We operate smart.

“Can I just ask-” I cut in. Continue reading


‘You come here on your motorcycle, Frode? Good. Let’s go for a drive.’

Chest pain and anxiety were razor butterflies in my chest.

After waiting in Dag’s apartment long enough for the cat and I to dry, we had headed out again. Deep into the lowest, ugliest districts. Deeper into the blackout zones than the Orpheum, by far.

The road conditions and cat in my jacket would have been enough, but my state of mind alone made driving almost impossible. My eyes were wide, weaving this low-lane traffic. There was a specific back route he had in mind.

The rain was ongoing but at this point I had gotten tired of complaining.

‘There’s something you need to see.’

Very soon our two motorcycles had only rubble and derelict vehicles to dodge. Even here, though, the vending machines glowed, vandalized as they were.

All told, I’d never left my sector before. This was three over.

Dag’s tail light led the way in front of me. I slowed as he did, taking an unexpected turn into a downsloping alley. The walls grew uncomfortably tight as it went on.

Suddenly the alley dropped down into an arched tunnel. Part of the old underground, back when the city had been built on actual ground. The black depths swallowed us.

The cat’s claws dug into my flesh with every major bump.

Up ahead there was a singular light. We slowed to a stop underneath it. There were old gas pumps standing in its halo, static playing on the video screens above them. Dag hopped off and turned them on. No card swipe.

“These pumps are just here?” I asked, killing my engine.

He didn’t answer. “Fill her up.”

As I hooked up my bike and took in the visual and audio static the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. There was a kind of smell on the air. A sound. An indescribable sensation that fell on me. Continue reading